Lehigh Valley

Lower Macungie board hears budget requests for 2014 budget

LOWER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. - Several groups and organizations in Lower Macungie Township hope to be a part of the township's 2014 budget. The Garden Club, Fire Department, library, Lower Macungie Seniors, Environmental Advisory Council, LMT swim team and the Lower Macungie Youth Association also asked for various amounts of money to continue their community programs. The Board of Commissioners also heard plans to improve park and rec programs and a walkway budget proposal.

The proposed walkway plan hopes to connect three areas of Lower Macungie Township with sidewalks. Part one involves making a crosswalk from the medical center along Willow Drive to Sequoia Drive across Willow Lane. Part two will create a walkway to Mill Creek Spur along Willow Lane. The third and last phase involves a new sidewalk from Hidden Valley Road to the Stoned Crab restaurant along Lower Macungie Road. There is still debate about how to enforce a project of this nature since several of the areas of interest are private property. Jim Palmquist requested $100,000 to begin the project in part one near Wawa along Willow Lane.

The Fire Department asked for $30,000 for a fire study to examine and analyze future needs of township, $37,000 for operating fees for Brandywine Station and $125,00 for a new fire police vehicle. Their total requests were for $583,000.

The library's requests were second only to the Fire Department. Jerel Gade, the vice president of the library, told the board that the library is committed to keeping a dedicated staff by providing a competitive wage and benefit program. The library hopes to receive $502,692 to offer these improvements to their staff while maintaining their ever-expanding programs and services.

The park and rec proposed budget of $476,000 would include creating ADA compliant parking spaces, a completion of the Lower Macungie Township campus trail, continuing the parks signage program and improvements at Heritage Heights, Cherry Park and Farmington Hills. For the fourth year in a row, a fulltime park and rec maintenance person has been requested.

The Lower Macungie Youth Association asked the board for its usual $65,000, which makes up only a small portion of its yearly $500,00 budget. The Environmental Advisory Council asked for $10,000, mainly to do a tree inventory to protect ash trees from future emerald ash beetle infestations. The Garden Club and the Lower Macungie Seniors both asked for $9,000 to support their programs. The Lazers swim team asked for $5,000.

Of these, the board sounded most supportive of the Lower Macungie Seniors.

"We spend a lot of money on our children and other residents but we spend very little on our seniors and I think this is one area of the budget that I would at least consider increasing," said James Lancsek, a board member.

All of the nine groups that addressed the board presented their individual budgets and their plans for the requested funds should they receive them. The board must decide just how much to give all of these groups before their next meeting on October 29th. At that meeting, each department manager will bring ideas about how to decrease their needed budgets also. All final decisions must be made at this meeting so that the final budget can be formed and approved by December.

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